HBO Inks Exclusive Licensing Deal With Canada's Bell Media

Miltos Yerolemou Game of Thrones - H 2014
Courtesy Everett Collection

Miltos Yerolemou Game of Thrones - H 2014

The media giant will shortly launch a Canadian SVOD streaming service to rival Netflix Canada

Bell Media and HBO have signed a multi-year deal that gives the Canadian telco and TV giant the exclusive multi-platform rights to HBO’s classic programming, including subscription video-on-demand rights.

Bell Media now aims, after locking up the HBO rights, to keep them away from Netflix Canada.

The long-term licensing agreement, similar to the multi-year deal HBO did with Amazon Prime, includes 850 hours of scripted programming like The Sopranos and Curb Your Enthusiasm on top of HBO movies, documentaries and stand-up and music specials.

Canadian rivals Rogers Media and Shaw Media recently unveiled Shomi, a domestic SVOD service to launch in November with super content deals from the major Hollywood studios.

Rogers and Shaw invited Bell Media to board Shomi and head off Netflix Canada.

Bell Media execs privately say they kicked the tires on Shomi, concluded the math didn't add up and are pressing ahead with their own SVOD service to launch as early as this winter.

Bell Media runs cable and pay TV channels in Canada and, with rival Corus Entertainment, operates HBO Canada, which in a separate deal secured the past-season library of HBO series like Game of Thrones, Girls, Boardwalk Empire and True Detective.

Bell Media's CTV is also Canada's top-rated network, with U.S. series like The Big Bang Theory, Grey's Anatomy and the Law and Order and CSI franchises.

The media giant is betting it can rival both Shomi and Netflix Canada by offering the chance to catch up on top-rated U.S. and Canadian shows and an HBO back catalog never fully exploited in Canada.